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Citizen Science update: Bird banding and conservation in Karakin

CCWA’s latest Citizen Science programme - Living with Nature - has begun with a busy May weekend in Karakin, a peri-urban suburb approximately 120km north of Perth on Yued Noongar country. 

Working with local landowners, the weekend was filled with site assessments, pit-fall trap installations and bird banding – all with the aim of helping locals manage their bush blocks, monitor biodiversity and understand the ecological impacts of slashing and mulching (an alternative means of regenerating vegetation to the more widely used practice of burning).  

A typical bush block in Karakin

After the success of our first Living with Nature event last year in Karakin, we are grateful to receive the support from the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC) for a two-year program, led by CCWA’s Citizen Science team Dr Claire Greenwell, Dr Nic Dunlop and Alison Goundrey.

We’ve been overwhelmed with offers from Seaview Park owners in Karakin keen to join the slash and mulch management trial. This is a key component of the project as we work to find new ways to regenerate senescent heathland (dead and dying vegetation). With this comes many rewards - creating a food source for Carnaby Black-Cockatoos, reducing fuel loads and assisting with fire management.

We have some excellent sites for pit-fall trap installation, which will be used to survey small ground fauna in the remnant heathland throughout the bushland estate.

(L-R) Owen drilling drain holes in the pit fall buckets | Nic and Claire supervising pit fall traps

Assessing and monitoring the plants and animals in the area is a critical component of the project. A bush-bird ‘mark-release-recapture’ project registered with the Australian Bird & Bat Banding Scheme has already been operating for three years.

During our latest visit, conditions for bird banding were ideal. Banding sites were set up on two neighbouring properties and our small team of trained banders was kept busy during the early morning and late afternoon capture sessions.

White-cheeked honeyeaters and silvereyes were common. Singing honeyeaters, brown honeyeaters, spotted scrubwrens were in moderate numbers, while a single striated pardalote, tawny-crowned honeyeater, western wattlebird and grey shrike-thrush were among the other birds to be caught and released.

(L-R) Striated pardalote, western wattlebird and grey shrike-thrush

There was great interest in the ‘bat bycatch’ when a lesser long-eared bat met the mist nets at dusk, as the nets were being furled.

Lesser long-eared bat

A huge thanks is in order for the local landowners from the Seaview Park Community Association, CCWA volunteers and school students clocking up volunteer hours who joined the weekend.

Special mentions to Gavin, who can dig a pit trap hole in seconds, and to Owen, Roz, Steve and the "Hotel Norris" who kindly accommodated some of the bird banding team.

The bird banders’ setup in “Hotel Norris”

Next up for the Living with Nature program:

  • Install the balance of the pit traps on selected properties before September
  • Confirm first ground fauna monitoring dates for September
  • Selection of properties for the slash/mulch ahead of flora surveys scheduled for 1st - 5th September

Find out more about CCWA’s Citizen Science program

Photo credits: Thank you to Roz Norris, Dehlia Goundrey, Nic Dunlop, Merryn Pryor and Alison Goundrey for providing the photos included in this article.  

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